Weight loss surgery may be better than medication alone for patients with type 2 diabetes

NBC Nightly News reported that “researchers have found that weight loss surgery for” patients with type 2 diabetes “can be more effective than taking medication in beating this disease.”

USA Today reports that for the study, presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, investigators “followed 150 patients, one-third of whom were treated for their diabetes with medication and lifestyle changes alone; one-third who also got gastric bypass surgery; and one-third who had a different type of bariatric surgery called a sleeve gastrectomy.”

Study participants “were overweight or mildly obese and had diabetes that was not well controlled by medication.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that the researchers found that “bariatric surgery did more to improve symptoms of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol after three years than intensive treatment with drugs alone.”

Meanwhile, those who underwent “sleeve gastrectomy also lost more weight, had better kidney function and saw greater improvements in their quality of life than their counterparts who did not” undergo surgery.

On its website, TIME reports that while the investigators “determined their findings at the three year mark, major improvements were seen in some patients immediately after surgery.” In fact, “some patients had total insulin control even just hours post-surgery or a few days later.”

The AP reports, however, that “insulin use rose in the medication group, from 52 percent at the start to 55 percent at three years.”

The NPR “Shots” blog points out that while “the study is focused on bariatric surgery, it also shows just how hard it is to manage diabetes with drugs alone,” as the participants “in the medication-only group were working with endocrinologists at the Cleveland Clinic and almost certainly getting more medical attention than most people with diabetes.”

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